Information related to Panic Disorder as well as the specific symptoms follow below. While some of these Panic Disorder symptoms may be recognized by family, teachers, legal and medical professionals, and others, only properly trained mental health professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, professional counselors etc.) can or should even attempt to make a mental health diagnosis. A multitude of factors are considered in addition to the psychological symptoms in making a proper diagnosis, including medical and psychological testing considerations. This information is for information purposes only and should never replace the judgment and comprehensive assessment of a trained mental health clinician.
Panic Disorder Diagnostic Criteria: 300.01 (F41.0):
A. Unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, during which time four (or more) of the following symptoms occur:
Note: The abrupt surge can occur from a calm state or an anxious state.
1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate.
3. Trembling or shaking.
4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.
5. Feelings of choking.
6. Chest pain or discomfort.
7. Nausea or abdominal distress.
8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint.
9. Chills or heat sensations.
10. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations).
11. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself).
12. Fear of losing control or “going crazy”.
13. Fear dying.
Note: Culture-specific symptoms such as tinnitus, neck soreness, headache, uncontrollable screaming or crying may be seen. Such symptoms should not count as one of the four required symptoms.
B. At least one of the attacks has been followed by one month (or more) of one or both of the following:
1. Persistent concern or worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences such as losing control, having a heart attack or “going crazy”.
2. A significant maladaptive change in behavior related to the attacks such as behaviors designed to avoid having panic attacks, such as avoidance of exercise or unfamiliar situations.
C. The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance such as a drug of abuse, a medication or another medical condition such as hyperthyroidism or cardiopulmonary disorders.
D. The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder such as panic attacks, do not occur only in response to fear and social situations, as in social anxiety disorder; in response to circumscribed phobic objects or situations, as in specific phobia; in response to obsessions, as in obsessive-compulsive disorder; in response to reminders of traumatic events, as in posttraumatic stress disorder; or in response to separation from attachment figures, as in separation anxiety disorder.
Diagnostic Information and Criterion from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition American Psychological Association